Benefit of Gene Expression Profiling in Gastrointestinal Neuroendocrine Tumors of Unknown Primary Origin

Academic Article


  • Background/Aim: Cancer of unknown primary (CUP), representing 3-5% of all newly diagnosed cancers in the United States, is a presumptive, non-definitive diagnosis rendered when a primary tumor site cannot be identified after exhaustive diagnostic evaluation, including cases of neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs). CUPs are characterized by findings that are challenging to reconcile, including inconclusive immunohistochemical (IHC) stains, an undifferentiated morphologic phenotype, history of multiple cancers, a clinical presentation that is discordant from histologic findings, an atypical distribution of metastases, or lack of expected response to treatment. For a significant subset of NENs (10%), traditional diagnostic evaluation is unable to determine a primary tumor site using histomorphology and IHC stains. Gene expression profiling (GEP) of either mRNA or microRNA is the technique utilized in the three commercially available platforms that provide a prediction of tumor type in cases of diagnostic uncertainty of CUPs, including those with neuroendocrine differentiation. Case Series Report: Here we present four cases of NENs, where the diagnosis based upon histomorphological and IHC features presented a unique challenge that ultimately benefited from the integration of molecular tumor classification using the validated assay. CancerTYPE ID by Biotheranostics is based on a quantitative RT-PCR assay that uses a computational algorithm to measure the collective expression of 92 genes (87 cancer-related genes and 5 control genes). This case series reports five appropriate clinical scenarios that highlight the utility of a GEP-based assay to effectively provide a molecular tumor classification to identify NEN subtypes and tumor primary site of origin. Conclusion: These cases demonstrated that the CancerTYPE ID test was able to resolve challenging diagnoses for primary and metastatic NENs. These cases emphasize the clinical need of utilizing a GEP-based assay for determining the anatomic site of origin and NEN subtyping, both essential for the appropriate clinical management of NENs.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Saller JJ; Haider M; Diffalha SAL; Coppola D
  • Start Page

  • 1381
  • End Page

  • 1396
  • Volume

  • 42
  • Issue

  • 3